Are those conifers in the back? If so you wont get much to grow in there, definatley nothing with flowers anyway, you could try Aucuba japonica, Viburnum davidii, Ilex, maybe Mahonia.
If you can improve the soil as much as possible and keep the existing laurels etc under control then maybe try the following, it goes without saying that what ever you try will need watering regularly until well established, which could be most of the year if weather is hot!
EPIMEDIUM PERRALCHIUM + E.PINNATUM
HARDY GERANIUMS, the ones which are listed as coping well in shade
LARGE LEAVED HOSTAS, the bluey green ones are best
Agree, cut back the laurel as much as you can/are allowed to.
If you want to underplant with herbaceous plants,
try Liriope muscari Variegata to light it up a bit,
or Vinca minor and
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae (woodspurge) or
Geranium phaeum as groundcover
If there is no irrigation and noone to water it, it will need soil improvement and lots of it!
Good luck and post the pics of the result?!
Rip everything there out as nothing present seems functional or attractive ... if you want herbaceous plants then I would plant the whole bed up with Epimedium Frohnleiten or go for a very tough prostrate evergreen shrub like Lonicera pileata which has beautiful fresh green leaves in the spring and can be kept neat by clipping and allowed to stay at any height between 400mm and 800mm. If there are any trees existing in this bed then keep the planting to one species.
Good Luck whatever you decide.
I would crown lift the laurel, and underplant with daphne odorata aureomarginata and sarcocco hookeriana--both strongly scented shade lovers. This would add a nice sensory touch for the old people.
I would underplant these with massed vinca minor, and drop in some spring daffs for colour. See if you can get the management to fund a bit of extra scented planting for people elsewhere--such as the climbers traecholospermum (Confederate Jasmine) and clematis armandii--both really lovely and scented, as well as evergreen. Are there any paths you could edge with lavender? Any sunny spots for rosemary? Any hedges you could do with rosa rugosa for scent? These things add a lot of interest and value for older folks.
Pruning the existing shrubs properly would make a big difference to start with